4 minute read 7 Oct 2021
e-Rupi – a digital payment solution

e-RUPI: an innovation to accelerate financial inclusion in India

By Nilesh Naker

EY India Technology Consulting Partner

With over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, Nilesh plays a critical role in furthering the development of fintech and digital transformation.

4 minute read 7 Oct 2021

The recently launched e-RUPI digital payment solution promises to be a game changer.

India has been at the forefront of a digital payments revolution in the past decade. The Indian consumers have a plethora of instruments like NEFT, IMPS, wallets and UPI at their disposal for all transactional needs. Despite this, private, institutional and regulatory players in the ecosystem are always innovating and focusing on improving their basket of services and products.

What is e-RUPI?

The government of India introduced e-RUPI[1] on 2nd August 2021, a cashless and contactless prepaid voucher-based payment instrument built on the UPI (Unified Payments Interface) platform. It is a onetime electronic voucher system developed by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI), in conjunction with the Department of Financial Services, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the National Health Authority.

The launch of e-RUPI is a strategic initiative driven by the stakeholders involved with an eye on healthcare and government subsidy payments examples. They have strived to ensure that e-RUPI enables government benefits and services reach their intended beneficiaries without discrepancies or delays. Currently, the government is using this payment instrument to facilitate healthcare services such as COVID-19 vaccinations. However, e-RUPI's utility will eventually extend to provide direct benefit transfer (DBT), scholarships, subsidies, disaster relief kits, pension funds, and more.

How do I access e-RUPI?

According to the NPCI,14 public and private sector banks[1] have been onboarded so far as issuers. These banks can directly send prepaid UPI vouchers to the beneficiary's mobile via SMS strings or a QR code. e-RUPI is a person-specific and purpose-specific payment system. Hence, only an allocated beneficiary can use the voucher at a service provider like a PHC or the hospital. For redemption, beneficiaries can scan the QR code or submit the SMS to an authorized merchant. This system executes payments instantly and does not require beneficiaries to share any personal information.

The key distinguishing feature of e-RUPI compared to other digital payment systems is the financial inclusion of non-banked beneficiaries. This onetime payment mechanism facilitates users to redeem e-vouchers without a bank account, card, smartphone, or internet banking access. This can speed up the adoption of digital payments in rural areas and among economically backward sections of the population. It can expedite the targeted, transparent, and leakage-free delivery of government and social services, which would include schemes such as ASHA, DBT, Anganwadi, Agriculture incentives, and more.

e-RUPI can also help to enhance and accelerate the Direct Benefits transfer (DBT)[2] schemes in India. Such schemes in India have already touched the lives of many millions and are a lifeline for most of them. A cumulative amount of over 18 lakh crores pertaining to 311 schemes of 54 ministries are currently being disbursed directly into the Aadhaar linked accounts of beneficiaries across the nation.

e-RUPI can be a ready solution for overcoming some of the hurdles that affect DBT penetration, such as lack of telecom penetration, continuous migration of individuals, and low levels of banking adoption amongst marginalized sections. Besides the schemes covered under DBT, there are over 1000 non-DBT or in-kind schemes, that face major challenges in their implementation. e-RUPI can minimize these challenges by enabling citizens to choose service providers and last-mile locations, provide traceability and control of service provisioning, and proactive planning based on unused vouchers.

Summary

We are witnessing a growing dependence on new payment systems and a steady departure from conventional mode of payments. Despite this, financial inclusion still hits a few roadblocks in India. e-RUPI digital payment solution could be the first step towards launching digital currency in India. 

About this article

By Nilesh Naker

EY India Technology Consulting Partner

With over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, Nilesh plays a critical role in furthering the development of fintech and digital transformation.